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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 05-04-05

The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <>


  • [01] Admission Based on Pass Mark
  • [02] Final Homage
  • [03] Centenarian… Morris Green
  • [04] Pill for Longer Life Found?
  • [05] PASOK Blames Government for Food Issue
  • [06] Battlefield Dendropotamos
  • [07] New Faces in Extra-Judicial Network
  • [08] Greek Ship Found
  • [09] Britain Goes to the Polls
  • [10] New Economic Measures Inescapable
  • [11] "Planet" Raises Questions
  • [12] Feng Shui Behind Bars

  • [01] Admission Based on Pass Mark

    05 Apr 2005 14:07:00 (Last updated: 05 Apr 2005 18:15:19)

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    The assurance that no candidate with grades below the pass mark will enter Higher Education and Polytechnic Institutions in Greece from 2006 was given on Tuesday by the Minister of Education Marietta Giannakou, after the Cabinet meeting. The Cabinet meeting, which was chaired by the Prime Minister Mr Kostas Karamanlis, focused on matters relating to the national dialogue on Education as well as the evaluation of Universities. In addition, other topics discussed were those of Institutes for life-long education, the upgrading of TEE to Technical Lyceums, as well as the topic of connecting education to social reality. Earlier, for the second day Mr Karamanlis had contacts with businessmen and representatives of production bodies. This morning, he met with the Chairman of the Economic and Social Committee, Nikos Analitis, and the Chairman of the Association of Greek IT Enterprises, Spiros Vizantios.

    Internal and External University Evaluation

    Referring to the evaluation of Universities, Mrs Giannakou stated that it will be internal, based on the rules of the European network for evaluation, as well as external, to be conducted by an independent body.

    Answering a question on the matter of the leak of topics for the Panhellenic exams, which arose on Monday, Mrs Giannakou clarified that there had been no leak. The Minister added that on Monday the ministerial decision had been released, and that during the internal distribution of topics, the Ministry was informed that some Media knew of the topics, which is why the announcement was made. "We operated with objectivity for all," concluded Mrs Giannakou.

    Harsh Reactions by KKE

    Via an announcement, KKE expressed their opposition to Mrs Giannakou's statements with regard to the evaluation of Universities, estimating that the evaluation of which the Minister spoke "is cut and dried to businessmen's request for the full integration of Universities and Higher Education Institutions to their policy for competitiveness and profit." What is more, KKE estimated that the government evaluation will lead to the categorization and further degradation of education, whose "victims are once again simple children."

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [02] Pope's Mortal Remains for Pilgrimage Final Homage

    05 Apr 2005 19:01:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Three days remain before the funeral of Pope John Paul II and crowds of tens of thousands of people are pouring in the Vatican to pay their last respects, while huge queues have been formed outside St Peter's Basilica, where the Pontiff's body is exposed for public veneration. At the same time, preparations are underway for the burial ceremony on Friday, which will be attended by almost two million mourners and 200 religious and political leaders from all over the world. Security measures are draconian with almost 6,500 police officers on alert. And while Catholics all over the globe are in mourning, eyes are also set on the College of Cardinals, which will convene within the following days to elect a new Pontiff.

    With Tears in their Eyes

    The Vatican has turned into a sea of people. Both in life and death, Pope John Paul II always has the faithful by his side.

    "We are here to tell him thank you, farewell, we'll see you later," said one of the pilgrims.

    According to figures, more than 500,000 faithful have paid homage to the Pope's mortal remains, while it is estimated that by Friday over four million people will have arrived in the Vatican to bid the final farewell to the body of their spiritual father lying in state.

    There is an endless queue of faithful in St Peter's square, while all streets around the Vatican have been crammed with people eager to get a last glimpse of one of the longest-reigning leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. Screens have been placed along the streets broadcasting the silent procession of thousands of people towards the Pontiff's body. Some await stoically for more than eight hours to pay their last respects, while others even slept out in the square, where volunteers offered bottles of water to the elderly so they can endure the wait.

    "It is a moment of grief, but at the same time grief fades away to be substituted by joy, because we know that Pope John Paul II lies in the hands of God," said another pilgrim.

    In the meantime, preparations for the funeral ceremony of the Pontiff and his succession are already underway.

    Draconian Security Measures

    Rome is on alert to welcome foreign dignitaries who will attend the Pope's funeral, as well as the tens of thousands of Catholics, who are already arriving in the city.

    The gathering will be one of the largest of world leaders in history and Rome is expecting a total of up to two million mourners to take to the city's streets on Friday.

    Among others, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, US President George Bush, French President Jacques Chiraq, German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and British PM Tony Blair will also attend the funeral service.

    Greece will be represented by the President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and a Church delegation, headed by Archbishop Christodoulos. What is more, for the first time in history, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople will be represented in a Pontiff's funeral. Mr Bartholomew will be the head of the great delegation.

    Italian authorities are in a state of alert. Almost 1,500 members of special forces and carabinieri will undertake the task of protecting the heads of state, while 5,000 more police officerswill be responsible for preserving public order and surveilling "dangerous targets", as per the ministry of Internal Affairs. "Rome will ensure the smooth expression of love to the Pontiff and guarantee the maximum security for all," stressed the mayor of Rome.

    The funeral service will take place on Friday morning in St Peters Basilica and will be officiated by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a close friend of the late Pope and his likely successor. Following this, the casket will be transferred inside the Basilica, to be buried in a crypt beneath the Cathedrals Altar. That is where most Popes of the Roman Catholic Church have been laid to rest.

    On the day of the funeral, security measures will be even stricter and as broadcast the Italian news agency ANSA citing secret service sources, the airspace of Rome will be closed and protected by interceptor crafts and helicopters, while it will also be supervised by a NATO AWACS plane. Surveillance measures in airports and train stations will be reinforced and a total of 10,000 to 15,000 of police and military officers will be mobilized.

    Looking at the College of Cardinals

    Succession procedures are expected to commence in the Sistine Chapel within 15 to 20 days with the participation of 117 Cardinals. During the first assembly of the conclave on Thursday, the Cardinals were sworn to secrecy regarding all preparations for the election of a new Pontiff.

    On Tuesday, the Cardinals convened to set the assembly date of the conclave that will appoint the Pope's successor, however the relevant decision was not been disclosed yet.

    As per Cardinal Marini, for the first time in Papal history, the conclave will be held throughout the whole city-state. This means cardinals will be free to move between different parts of the complex, although they will still be barred from contact with the outside world.

    Lastly, according to Cardinal Marini, the naming of the new Pope will be announced by the customary plume of white-smoke, as well as by St Peter's bells, which will all ring together.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [03] Centenarian Morris Green

    05 Apr 2005 17:07:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    He may be over 105, but that doesn't stop him from going strong. We are talking about Guo Cairu, a centenarian Chinese from Nanjing city, Jiangsu province, who is aiming at smashing the world record in the 100m race for centenarians. In fact, he was recently chosen as the torch bearer for the upcoming 10th National Games. However, for the time being he is training to smash the record of South African Philip Babinowitz, aged 100, who last July run 100m in 30.86 seconds, slashing more than five seconds off the previous record.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [04] Scientists remain reserved Pill for Longer Life Found?

    05 Apr 2005 14:47:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    Sources: BBC

    Professor John Speakman, from Aberdeen University in Scotland claims to have discovered the secret to long life. As he says, one day people may be able to extend their life spans by 30 years simply by taking a pill. The "magic" pill is the hormone thyroxine, which strengthens the metabolism, and, according to Professor Speakman, by extension, the lifespan. The study by the Professor from Aberdeen University was based on experiments, which were carried out on mice and showed that the right dose of thyroxine could extend the lifespan by 25%. The results of the research will be published in the Experimental Biology Journal. However, hormone specialists warn that an overdose of thyroxine could even prove fatal.

    Delicate Balances

    Thyroxine is a hormone, which is needed by the metabolism and is prescribed to those who do not produce enough. On the other hand, those who have naturally high levels of thyroxine need to follow medical treatment to reduce it.

    This hormone boosts the metabolic rate, which has very positive results on cells, as it reduces the production of harmful free radicals.

    Professor Speakman, who was awarded a grant of 657,000 euros by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Council, stresses that the key in this case is the right dose.

    In fact, he states that he will continue his experiments on mice, in order to determine the dose, although he reports that there is a chance that his research will not bring results.

    He also states that the aim of his research is not simply to extend mans lifespan, but to give extra healthy years.


    On the other hand, Dr Pierre Bouloux, an endocrinologist at the Royal Free Hospital in London, stresses that it is very likely that the results will not apply to human beings, as the metabolic rate of rats is very different from that of man.

    He even sounds the alarm, saying that an over-active thyroid gland can cause cancer, while it increases the risk of osteoporosis, and he warns that health problems can even be caused if the level of thyroxine is only slightly higher.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [05] Party coordinators meet PASOK Blames Government for Food Issue

    05 Apr 2005 14:34:00

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    Sources: NET, NET 105.8

    PASOKs coordinators, whose meeting on Tuesday was chaired by the President of the party, George Papandreou, stated that incompetence, negligence and the absence of the state led to the recent problems that arose regarding the unsuitability of foods. During the meeting, other matters under discussion were those relating to the market and price rises, while the governments economic measures were also taken into consideration. Also participating in the meeting, was PASOKs representative in the sector, Vaso Papandreou, while following the meeting, the President of the party had successive meetings with representatives of GSEE, ADEDY and SEV. Tomorrow (Wednesday), there will be a discussion in Parliament on the government amendments to fiscal measures, in which PASOKs President will speak.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [06] Outraged Inhabitants Over Drug Trafficking Battlefield Dendropotamos

    05 Apr 2005 19:54:00

    By Annita Paschalinou

    Dendropotamos, Thessaloniki, was turned into a battlefield on Monday night, when more than 150 inhabitants outraged over the insufficient police measures and the uncontrollable action of drug trafficking networks, marched towards the houses of people they believed were trafficking drugs. In fact, when they tried to break in, tenants answered back with gunfire. A stone-throwing battle followed and police had to intervene in order to relieve the tension. Three people were arrested during the episodes.

    They Took the Law Into Their Own Hands

    The two of the three men were arrested for unnecessary shots fired, while the other one for causing damages on two vehicles. The episodes started when a group of gypsies moved against a family considered to be implicated in a drug trafficking network.

    In their effort to break inside the house, the members of the family answered back with gunfire. The episodes quickly took on large proportions with stone-throwing and continuous fire.

    The tension was relieved with the intervention of police forces. As per the Chief of Police in Thessaloniki, Stergios Apostolidis, the gypsies' mobilization was justified, but only up to a point. He also asked for the inhabitants' cooperation in order to put an end to drug trafficking. Over the past six months, 281 people have been arrested in Dendropotamos for drug trafficking and 30 kg of heroine have been confiscated.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [07] Six Suspicious Cases Reopen New Faces in Extra-Judicial Network

    05 Apr 2005 18:07:00

    By Annita Paschalinou

    Yesterday's information on the reopening of six cases regarding justices was confirmed today. The Minister of Justice, Anastasis Papaligouras, ordered the competent Review Council of the Supreme Court to reopen and investigate the cases in question, while he also asked for the investigation of relevant charges on corruption, which had been closed for yet unknown reasons. Questioned about the reopening of these files, the Minister of Justice underlined that Justice makes no discount. "The fact that some corruption cases had been closed in the past does not constitute an alibi, nor does it provide immunity," stressed Mr Papaligouras.

    Who Are Implicated in the Charges

    The cases refer to the past three years, and while looked into in the past by the Supreme Court, either minimum disciplinary penalties had been imposed, or no charges were pressed. New faces are implicated in these cases, whom the Supreme Court had not put so far under the microscope for the extra judicial networks. The charges regard:

    The implication of three high ranking justices to an illegal transaction network Systematic bribery of a Public Prosecutor Suspicious rulings by appellate judges (for particular suspects) Illegal interventions by a justice (in favour of a suspect) A couple of judges with property disproportionate to their salaries Charges are also pending against a justice for bribery, favourable treatment of a particular lawyer and other illegal actions.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    [08] All Well That Ends Well Greek Ship Found

    05 Apr 2005 14:58:00 (Last updated: 05 Apr 2005 22:25:30)

    By Vivian Papastefanou

    Cargo ship Filippos K, with a crew of eight Greeks, which has been missing since Sunday, was finally located in Crete. In the afternoon, its captain communicated with Greek authorities, while sailing south of Ierapetra. The cargo ship had set off from the port of Damnieta in Egypt, heading for Zakynthos and carrying 1450 tonnes of cement. The last contact with the ship was at 17:00 on Sunday, while it was sailing 95 nautical miles NW of Alexandria.

    At that point, the Filippos K met up with another cargo ship, Alfa Gemini, of which it requested information pertaining to weather conditions in the wider region.

    According to the Ministry of Mercantile Marine, the captain of the Alfa Gemini had the impression that although the Filippos K was ultimately headed for Greece, it was sailing in the opposite direction. In other words, it was sailing in the direction of Egypt, where it had come from.

    A spokesperson for the company which owns the ship stated that the Filippos K reported in every two days to the offices in Piraeus regarding its geographical position, while it had given no signs of life since the afternoon of 3 April.

    An urgent signal to locate the Filippos K has been sent to all ships sailing in the region, as well as to the port authorities in Crete, the southwestern Peloponnese, Zakynthos and Cairo.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [09] Parliament dissolves next week Britain Goes to the Polls

    05 Apr 2005 14:38:00

    By Betty Savourdou

    Sources: BBC, ANA

    It was officially announced on Tuesday by Tony Blair that in exactly one month, on 5 May, general elections will be held in Britain. The announcement was made by the British PM, outside 10 Downing Street, the Prime Ministers official residence, after he had asked Queen Elizabeth to dissolve Parliament next week in order for the pre-election campaign to officially start. Tony Blair appeared determined to have a third term in government, and stated that his pre-election campaign would centre on "the governments economic achievements," so that, as he said, "the economic stability, which was won through hard work, can last in the future, and the country may not return to economic dangers and the collapse of public services, as has happened in the past."

    Gap Decreases

    Tony Blairs main opponents, the leader of the Conservative Party, Michael Howard, and of the Liberal Democrats, Charles Kennedy, have already started their pre-election campaign, touring various areas of Britain. In the last elections, which were held on 7 June 2001, Blairs Labour Party won 43% of the vote, against 32% for the Conservatives.

    Blair first led the Labour Party to sweeping victory in May 1997.

    Recent opinion polls show that the gap between the Labour Party, who maintain a lead, and the Conservatives, is decreasing, with a 3% difference in Labours favour.

    According to the same polls, the Labour Party is expected to win 35-37%, with between 33 and 35% for the Conservatives, while the Liberal Democrats are expected to receive 20%.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [10] New Economic Measures Inescapable

    05 Apr 2005 18:34:00

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    After visiting the President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday morning, honourable ND President Konstantinos Mitsotakis stressed that the new economic measures announced by the government are inescapable. Mr Mitsotakis estimated that the measures are necessary, but insufficient and went on to add that there should be cuts in public expenditures, changes in social security and real privatizations. The President of the Federation of Greek Industries (FGI), Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, also referred to the new economic measures, estimating that they resulted from former governments' weakness to limit expenses and debts. What is more, Mr Kyriakopoulos stressed that the media and some bodies are exaggerating over the issue.

    Changes in Social Security

    After his first meeting with the President of the Republic, whom he visited in order to congratulate for his election, the honourable ND President spoke of measures of extreme need, which however are insufficient and went on to add that "the waste in state bodies has to stop, there should soon be structural changes in the work sector, and real privatization should proceed."

    "I am sure that ND will respond to this obligation," stressed Mr Mitsotakis, underlining that there should be changes in social security.

    In fact, Mr Mitsotakis said he made a proposal to competent ministers, which they found rather interesting. The proposal is included in the adoption in law of voluntary extension of the age limit of the insured workforce by two years. However, Mr Mitsotakis clarified that there is no proposal for people to pay more in insurance.

    "The government's aims will be achieved in full" said the Minister of Economy, Giorgos Alogoskoufis, during a discussion in Parliament over Economy, where PASOK spoke of an "attack against the people." In fact, Mr Alogoskoufis stressed that the reduction of deficit and public debt, created by previous governments, constitute "national challenges."

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    Related News:

    Mitsotakis: New Economic Measures Insufficient

    [11] Scientists disagree "Planet" Raises Questions

    05 Apr 2005 12:51:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    Sources: BBC

    The scientific community remains divided over the claims of a group of European astronomers that they have discovered a new "planet" outside of our solar system. According to the research by Ralph Neuhaeusers team, which is published in the Astronomy and Astrophysics Journal, the extra-solar "planet" is most likely in orbit around a star, GQ Lup, which is considered to be a new version of the Sun. In fact, the scientists managed to get the first direct picture of the "planet". GQ Lup and its "satellite" are about 400 light-years away from the Earth, and have been closely watched by Dr Ralph Neuhaeusers team since 1999. According to the scientists, because it is a relatively young system, the "planet" is thought to be quite hot, and the glare from the star helped to locate the "planet". In order to gather data, the astronomers used the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, the Hubble Space telescope and the Japanese Subaru Telescope in Hawaii.

    Planet or Object?

    The astronomers have found approximately 130 planets outside of our solar system over the last decade, but most of them have been found through the gravitational wobble they induce in their parent star.

    This new "planet" is quite far from GQ Lup, about 100 times the distance between the Sun and the Earth, a fact which helped the team to separate the light from the two objects.

    Its mass is estimated to be 1-2 times greater than that of Jupiter.


    However, many scientists doubt that GQ Lups satellite is an extra-solar planet.

    In fact, Professor Mark McCaughrean, of Exeter University in Great Britain says that he is keeping his doubts, based on the mass of the object, which could be from 15 to 40 times greater than Jupiter. Precisely for this reason, he stresses, it could be a brown dwarf, which is a small, cold object approximately the same size as Jupiter, but with a mass 13 to 75 times greater. It is, in other words, two light to become a star and too heavy to be called a planet, while it has not yet been proved that it is in orbit. It could simply be an object near GQ Lup.

    The solution could come from the next generation of telescopes, which are expected to be used in the next decade.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [12] Positive colours for positive behaviour Feng Shui Behind Bars

    05 Apr 2005 16:16:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    The situation in prisons in Japan is a headache for the country. In fact, it is not infrequent for there to be violent incidents between prison staff and prisoners. As a solution to the problem, the authorities are thinking of making aesthetic changes to prison clothing and bedcovers, in order to raise morale. For over 50 years, sheets in prisons have been bright orange with green stripes, which specialist psychologists stress makes them more nervous and aggressive. For this reason, the specialists note that it would be better to use warm colours, that help sleep, such as brown. In fact, they stress that the white pyjamas with black stripes and the yellow and green uniforms must change. The solution for prisoners to have a more positive outlook and a better mood, is mint green and soft blue.

    Translated by Millie Williams

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